Italian towns on lockdown after 2 virus deaths, clusters
CODOGNO, ITALY: A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdowns Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the new virus from China and a growing cluster of cases with no direct links to the origin of the outbreak abroad.
The secondary contagions prompted local authorities in the Lombardy and Veneto regions to close schools, businesses and restaurants and to cancel sporting events and Masses. The mayor of Milan, the business capital of Italy, shuttered public offices.
Hundreds of residents and workers who came into contact with an estimated 54people confirmed infected in Italy were in isolation pending test results. Civil protection crews set up a tent camp outside a closed hospital in Veneto to screen medical staff for the virus.
In the town of Codogno, where the first patient identified in the northern cluster was in critical condition, main street was practically a ghost town Saturday, with supermarkets, restaurants and businesses closed. The few people out on the streets were wearing coveted face masks, which were nearly impossible to find in sold-out pharmacies.
The president of Lombardy, Attilio Fontana, said there were 39 confirmed cases in the region, where 10 towns received orders to suspend nonessential activities and services. An elderly woman who died tested positive for the virus, though it wasn’t clear if that is what caused her death.
The Veneto region reported 12 people with the virus, including a 78-year-old man who died late Friday. Two of the region’s confirmed infections are in relatives of the man who died, Veneto regional president Luca Zaia said..
Zaia said Saturday that the contagion showed that the virus is transmitted like any other flu, and that trying to pinpoint a single source of infection or one with direct links to China is no longer effective.
“You can get it from anyone,” he told reporters. “We can expect to have cases of patients who had no contact” with suspected carriers. While the virus isn’t particularly lethal, it can be for the elderly or people with existing conditions, he said. – AP